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Week 7 Running Backs: Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds


By Jeffrey Beall (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jeffrey Beall (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThere were eighteen possible running backs I could have covered this week in my running backs waiver wire piece. Since some of them are guys I've mentioned in this column before, I figured I'd quickly touch on them and offer my updated thoughts.

They're not listed in order of relevance. And below that you will find my usual weekly analysis on some other running backs to consider off the Week 7 waiver wire:

  • Branden Oliver, who is breaking out before our eyes and should be owned in more than the 69% Fleaflicker leagues he's at currently. Go get Oliver now.
  • Bobby Rainey, who continues to be relevant enough to make Tampa's backfield complicated. I'd only pick him up if desperate or handcuffing Doug Martin.
  • Denard Robinson, who looked much more the role of the lead back than new fan-favorite Storm Johnson. Nothing about the Jags backfield gets me enthused.
  • Antone Smith, who is just absurd and unjustly owned in fewer than 50% of Fleaflicker leagues. Seriously, the Falcons need to get him more touches.  He has scores in four straight games, and his highest touches in those games were his six this past Sunday. Go get him.
  • James Starks, who seems to be splitting time now with a fairly ineffective Eddie Lacy and is worth a flier. Worth a look in 12-team leagues or deeper.

 

 

Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB) - Week 7

To begin this week's deeper running backs analysis, I'm going to revisit someone I first mentioned back in Week 4, because he has enough of an update to warrant that.

Isaiah Crowell (RB, CLE) - 32% owned on Fleaflicker

Isaiah Crowell, the man I've previously referred to as Scarecrow, is moving up in the world. He ran 11 times Sunday for 77 yards and a touchdown. That's a very tidy 7.0 yards per carry! And that's not the only exciting news for Crowell, because while Ben Tate was out, Crowell took some first-team reps over Terrance West. In fact, with West a healthy inactive on Sunday, it has become clear who the true RB2 is in the Browns backfield.

That's not a bad gig, considering Ben Tate's injury history. The undrafted 5'11'' 224-lb. back is one Tate injury away from being the lead man. Maybe Scarecrow can just use hypnosis to trick Tate into thinking he'd prefer fishing to playing football.  Don't get too far ahead of yourselves here though. Tate and Crowell have very similar body types, and Tate is the more athletic back when he can remain healthy. That said, Crowell is well worth owning in any league that is 12 teams or deeper.

 

Theo Riddick (RB, DET) - 3% owned on Fleaflicker

Reggie Bush found himself inactive for Sunday's game due to an ankle injury. Not the best time to be inactive when your team has a plus matchup against a bad run D, but you know, it happens. I'm not bitter that he was inactive on one of my most important teams. Not at all.

Anyway, Joique Bell had a good showing against the Vikings, as many expected. But it was Theo Riddick who really impressed me. Granted, Riddick did almost nothing in the run game, but his pass-catching ability was superb. He caught five balls for 75 yards and a TD, including a screen pass that he turned into a 41-yard gain. The 5'10'' 201-lb. back's best comparable is Justin Forsett. You know, that guy who is absolutely tearing it up in PPR leagues right now? Yeah, that one.

Maybe thanks to Riddick's success we can finally stop associating his name with a bad Vin Diesel movie.  It's relevant that Bush should return sooner than later, though.  In fact, Bush is claiming he'll return next week. But he also said he'd play this week, so trusting Reggie about when he plays may prove difficult. However, Riddick himself re-injured his hamstring in this week's game. I'd add Riddick in all dynasty formats and potentially take a flier on him in 12 team leagues or deeper.

 

Joseph Randle (RB, DAL) - 7% owned on Fleaflicker

As a Giants fan, it pains me to have recommend a Cowboys running back. But I take my job of helping you guys find running backs very seriously, so I do what I must. You all know by now that DeMarco Murray is playing like he should have been a first-round pick in most drafts. What you might not realize is that Murray's backups are playing pretty well, too.

Joseph Randle hasn't seen many attempts per game, but when he has, he's gotten good yardage (not counting last week). This week, Randle rushed five times for 52 yards. That's an awesome 10.2 yards per carry for those keeping track at home. He must have done that against a terrible defense right? Just one of the worst in the league in the Seattle Seahawks. Oh. What's that? They're one of the best run defenses in the league? Well, this is awkward.

I would take a flier on Randle in deep leagues. Yes, I'm aware of the presence of Lance Dunbar. But I'm also aware that Dunbar is 5'8'' and 191 lbs.,  and Randle is 6'0 and 200+ lbs. I think the Cowboys go to Randle to be their lead back if anything ever happens to Demarco. Based on how well they are running the ball this year, that alone makes him worth speculating on.

 

Dexter McCluster (RB, TEN) - 19% owned on Fleaflicker

It's hard to know how long Shonn Greene will be out since hamstring injuries are hard to gauge. However, the fantasy community has been buzzing about Bishop Sankey for weeks now. Unfortunately, all Sankey did was respond with 18 carries for 61 yards and one reception for 7 yards against a weak Jags D. That's not overly impressive.

Now, I'm not saying McCluster will move ahead of Sankey on the depth chart, but he had a good showing in the pass game on Sunday, catching six balls for 52 yards (8.7 yards per reception.) At 5'8'' and 170 lbs., McCluster isn't much more than a change-of-pace back, but he does draw comparisons to Darren Sproles. Does any change-of-pace back not draw comparisons to Darren Sproles? I'm not saying that McCluster isn't good, but it's sort of ridiculous how many guys are "comparable" to Darren Sproles when Sproles is clearly something special.

That tangent aside, McCluster is a much better complement to whoever takes the lead back job than is either Sankey or Greene. Both are built like lead backs, but aren't really receiving-type backs. And so McCluster is worth taking a chance on in deeper PPR leagues.

 

Ronnie Hillman (RB, DEN) - 51% owned on Fleaflicker

I didn't want to cover a Broncos RB in detail last week, but I they really forced my hand this week. Hillman took over the lead back job from the injured Montee Ball, and he made Ball look bad in the process. Hillman rushed 24 times for 100 yards and caught three balls for 16 yards against the Jets. Yes, the same Jets who were considered the league's elite run defense before Branden Oliver made them look like Swiss cheese last week. Maybe Oliver unlocked the secret cheat code to beating the Jets run defense, because (oddly) the Broncos had an easier time running the ball than they did throwing it.

I am still somewhat worried about Hillman, because Juwan Thompson didn't look bad himself in this game. However, any time you rush for 100 yards, I have to imagine your job is secure for at least another week or two. Ronnie also has the added benefit of ranking in the 87th percentile among running backs for the 40-yard dash, which I'm sure the Broncos are well aware of. However, Hillman does apparently have some ball control issues, and so he could be a fumble away from giving away his job to Juwan.

More than likely, you missed the boat on picking up Hillman by about a week, but if you didn't, he's worth a look in all leagues at least until Ball comes back. If Hillman plays well enough, the lead job could remain his even when Ball returns. He's certainly worth taking the risk on Peyton Manning's high-powered offense.

 

Shot In The Dark Recommendation

James White (RB, NE) - 9% owned on Fleaflicker

Who is James White? He's a rookie running back weighing in at 5'9'' and 204 lbs., taken by the Patriots in the fourth round of this year's draft. Why am I mentioning him? Because the Patriots fear that Stevan Ridley tore his ACL this week. Shane Vereen is most likely owned in your league, and he really hasn't done much since Week 1. Vereen is well worth owning in PPR, but I have a hard time trusting him. Some other fantasy sites expect that Brandon Bolden will be taking over the carries Ridley has left on the table, but I just don't see it. In his two years with the Patriots, Bolden has never seen more than 56 carries. I think the Pats will look to White, who should be the future of their run game, to take over in Ridley's absence. In the one game in which White was active, he had a very healthy 7.0 yards per carry.

Nevertheless, it's hard to trust Patriots running backs. Brady loves his arm, and Belichick will always keep you guessing at what the gameplan is. I own White in a dynasty league, a format in which I'd recommend grabbing him to see what he could give you. In other leagues, unless you're really looking for a shot in the dark, I think you can safely avoid him.

 

Honorable Mentions

Jerick Mckinnon (30% owned on Fleaflicker), Fozzy Whittaker (1% owned on Fleaflicker), Dri Archer (4% owned on Fleaflicker), Roy Helu (34% owned on Fleaflicker)

 

Closing Thoughts

The fact that so many lesser-known names are producing speaks volumes to the production that the league is getting from the top backs this year. It's a very volatile year for running backs, and I recommend getting depth at the position wherever you can.

 

As always, if you'd like to talk you can always find me on twitter @RekedFantasy. Until next week, RotoBallers!